Jason Pook 3D- 3rd year Games Design Blog

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Rocket Brief

As a mini brief with a quick turnaround of a week to test us for speed and achieving deadlines we was set to produce a visual which would be for a business poster as part of promotional materials for company Startupathon. The brief stated:

“You are asked to design and develop an image in any medium of a friendly retro-style space-rocket taking off against a friendly sky.”

The idea behind this poster is that it should have a feeling of moving on to pastures new, enthusiasm, optimism and positivity.

For this I collected some images of potential ideas I could use for this work:


As you can see i have collected a few different ideas, the ones with the boy throwing the plane was a suggestion from our tutor Paul which i thought id research anyways but not go with to focus own my own vision. The rest are some form of spaceship taking off or in orbit. I didnt really like any of these as they didnt grab me as fitting the brief for the feelings in the image unless I went with the same idea as most of the group which was a rocket shooting away from earth.

My idea behind this was that the rocket should be taking off from the city in some way. This would suggest you are taking off from the centre of the business world and out of all that city you are the one flying high so it meets the target of feelings behind the illustration.

So first I had to choose a spaceship to design, my personal favourite for design was the shuttle so I went along with that and modeled/textured it. then for the city it was simply a plane to the design of my choice with a shell modifier then applied to it to add thickness. For the city I did basic primitive shapes for most then added a bevel for a peaked roof effect for some buildings, I then grabbed them moved them around scaled them down to create verticality and a good visualisation of a city. A plane for the sky and a plane for the sea was also made.

This I then used cameras to render certain angles of the scene that may be suitable for the poster. My favourite 2 in the end was 1) the one of the city side on looking 2D with the rocket coming out high in the sky, and 2) the one where the camera was above the rocket looking down on the city.

The reason I liked 1. was that the city was small and insignificant, you couldn’t see how high or vast or wide as there was no 3D visualisation to it much like a silhouette of the city like its been left in the shadow of the rocket your business is now in. And then to contrast to the the rocket was high in the sky flying away from that business world in 3D.

The reason I liked 2. was that you was looking down on the rocket, this showed how high you was from the city/ business world the scales really well represented how high up you were and the angle of the rocket had a nice trajectory for flying off.

I then took these 2 concepts and brought them into Photoshop to add some details and try meet the brief.

For idea 1. i added the friendly night sky with a sunset in to give it a soft look and really put the city in a silhouette look suggesting the sun is behind it, I did 2 variations one with streamlines coming from the rocket to suggest the speed your flying away and then just a normal one.

For idea 2. i added a sea to the floor around the city which made it look like an island but the concept behind it still stands of you escaping the competition, and then a few clouds to emphasise how high you are.

I am pleased with my outcome of the work, my personal preference would be idea 2. as it looks like a better visual but for a A3 poster which would include their logo and brand idea 1. offers more space and is visually softer. With this being a weeks work this was handed in like this with the 3 final product variations.

Critique of my work would be in that i would have liked to have some form of texture on the city to make it a bit more visually impressive than the base grey I applied. For idea 1. a better visual representation of the rocket in flight would have enhanced the illustration as it does look a bit like its just hanging in the sky at the moment without the air speed lines. For idea 2. I would have liked a better sea than the one i did and more variations of cloud, yes I did a few variations but they was just transforms and warps of the original cloud I had.

I would like to come back to this at some point and product a more impressive illustration as I feel I can do a much better job of this with clearer vision and more time in Photoshop to add effects.

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Trident 3D Summer Week

As part of the summer we had the opportunity to come in for one week where the Hull based company Trident was doing a 3D and rendering workshop for us students using MODO. Unfortunately due to my job i was working the first 2 days of the summer school but thanks to the team and Phillip Maclennan i was quickly brought up to speed with what i had missed.

The first couple of days they had to 3D model a Head and Shoulders travel size bottle to scale, then use the re-topology feature in MODO to re-topolgise a 3D scan of the bottle that they had provided for us. The feature was in a sense drawing onto the model all you had to do was envision what the topology would be like so basically drawing quads and trying to keep a nice clean edge flow.

When i arrived the task was to then model it in MODO and see how we got on. With our comfort zone being 3DSmax as we have used it as our primary 3D modelling software throughout the course it was a test to see how we got on. Personally it took a little bit of getting used to mainly the navigation as the rotate viewport and move were different to 3DSmax so my natural instinct tripped my up a few times. But generally the basic modelling side of things was transferable, certain things i didnt know how to do in MODO which i would have jumped to easily in 3DSmax but I am sure the features would have been there if more time was spent learning the 3D side of MODO.

Here is the original bottle we had provided to model from:


Here is my model in MODO:


As you can see a basic model with a slight ridge where the lid attaches to the bottle then a extrude inwards, it needed more of a cap for the lid where it would open but I wasn’t entirely sure how to do that in MODO at the time. At this time ignore the texture its just a base which ill now go into.

The next step was to texture the model and we was provided with the product label which we was to use to create the product as real as possible when applying. So to start after a basic unwrap and applying plastic materials provided in MODO to the lid and bottle we had a label with guidelines given to us, as you can see in the image above it has the guidelines on it to make sure the scale is correct and proportionally accurate, when that is established the guidelines were removed and the label masked as black is visual in MODO which is opposite to most where white is. Shown here:


This then coming together nicely needed just a bit of added detail. On the actual bottle the swoosh on the label is shiny and more reflective than the rest of the bottle. This was done by masking the swoosh and then i used the tin material in MODO to achieve the desired effect. Shown here:


As you noticed I changed the the 3DSmax model for a more realistic look as my MODO model wasn’t up to scratch for a realistic product visualisation. As you can see the swoosh now has the shine. In this image we also began to move into the lighting side of MODO, this is a 3 point lighting rig with some slight rotations to create a nice shine on the left and a slightly duller shine on the right both catching the shine of the swoosh. This was just using some basic directional lights thrown in, but in MODO they showed us they have a soft box setup which is quite a good starting block for lighting a product.

Shown here:


with a few rotations and tweaks and the background plane changed to a blue with a higher reflectiveness i created this:


As you can see the blue complements the bottle better visually I felt it signified a water colour which is obviously needed to wash your hair. With the increased reflection on the background plane and floor it makes the bottle look sharper, also it doesn’t look as blasted out with light from the left side as the previous render did.

To progress we was shown some rendering tips and tricks of the trade:


Doesn’t look like much of a change but i have rotated the render camera slightly and the bottle as well to add a angle to the shot adding a less uniform looking shot of the product. Then we was shown features such as depth of field and a good render setup size for a high quality image.


Here is my final product from the Trident week. I added another 2 bottles in the render shot with different angles and depth to use the depth of field feature to really focus in on the centre bottle but have more going on in the background all be it slightly out of focus. Also i brought the camera closer in to the bottle so it fills most of the viewport really capturing the bottle design.

To evaluate the week i found it very beneficial, before I had little experience with lighting and rendering so this process made me delve into things i hadn’t really gone into before. I was really pleased with my final product, i think with more time the lighting could be better but for the weeks work I am pleased with the outcome. As for MODO it grew on me by the end of the week it was 3DSmax I was getting confused in navigation mixing it up with MODO, as for the rendering and lighting tools i think its a really powerful useful piece of software. I still prefer 3DSmax for comfort and skill level reasons but that could be transferred over with a bit of practice in MODO.

To conclude we was invited for a tour later on in the summer of the Trident studios, this was another great experience of how industry works and how great a job Trident does with its work. On the day they also gave us individual feedback on our work, my individual critique was that generally a really good impressive effort but one touch up would need to be done in that personally they didnt like that on the front bottle the swoosh was blasted out on the left side so you couldn’t work out the curve if you had never seen the bottle. I hadn’t even noticed this so that just goes to show experience and their eye for detail, its a rather fast fix with moving the light and decreasing the intensity but i no longer have MODO as I have used my free trial up.

Overall a great experience to be given work and guidance by industry professionals, massive thanks to the guys from Trident hope to see you all again soon.

(Thanks to Phillip Maclennan for providing me with the 3DSmax model of the head and shoulders bottle to save me falling behind when i turned up on Wednesday)

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Client Project- Rabbit Heart Concept Brief

On our Friday client session we was awaiting our group client project for the year much the same as the Whitefriargate project we did last year. To find out this time we have a choice of multiple briefs that we can choose to do as an individual as a small team or some were specifically the whole group of nothing so if one person didnt want to then we couldn’t do it.

After some discussion we was directed to the briefs at the new media website, personally I wanted to work in a group but not everyone did so Myself, Phil and David proposed to Gareth that we develop part of the Rabbit Heart project. This would be acceptable as Gareth and Paul our tutors are the clients for this and could give us direct feedback and critique of content that may be used in there game.

With this accepted we chose a concept piece we was actually given a few weeks before the start of second year as a mini brief to up skill. We didnt get past sketches for it as year 2 started and projects started coming in, so this time around we have the chance to develop what we wanted to work on last year. And with the increased experience in our work it should be a nice portfolio piece for all of us.

(These concepts were made by Gareth Sleightholme)

The concepts are for the end of the tutorial level, this is the final step after you exit the cave before the full game. In the concept we have a broken ship, platforms, supports, rock structures, a lift, the rabbit and a vast background environment.

I went and took these concept pieces and did a rough scale reference which would assist us when developing the 3D.

These scales were based on work with Gareth to try figure it out. Much was determined based on the known scale of the rabbit of 16ft so the rock structure height was based off that. I understand looking back at it after out discussions of the concept on Friday that the rock from the platform to the floor is far more than 100ft, I think i had labelled this as 100ft in view possibly but it will be much bigger as we are building an in game environment not just what you can see here at this angle.

In addition to these I had done some sketches of designs for the mechanical structures holding up the platform and the lift.

In the sketches multiple variations of each design was considered to fit the theme of the military organisation that seems to have abandoned the area and many things were quick setup transportable pieces. So from basic blocked supports to hydraulic supports were looked at. My personal focus was towards the hydraulic as its looks the part visually aswell as serving the purpose.

Then the lift designs, the idea would be that the lift lowers the player down to the start of the game after finishing the tutorial level. Therefore animation and mechanisms needed to be considered for the lift. I drew chains, cables, hooks, ropes, sliders and even magnetised lifts. These all be it first sketches of ideas but give a good basis to expand upon.

Moving on we as a team decided to separate the concept into sections for each individual to have. This was done baring in mind what each person was aiming towards for industry. Here is how it was split up:

Phil- Rock Structures (Cave outside/ mountain, archway), Environment Background (vast floor level, possibly forest, river, distant mountains).

David- Supports, Cables/ Fuel Pipe, Other Small Assets (populate area a bit more, possible pickup, toolbox etc.)

Myself- Broken Ship, Platform, Lift.

With Phil he is aiming to be an environment artist and recently worked on rocks, David wants to work in the line of 3D possibly props, and I am working towards being a 3D artist and have experience in vehicle modelling with the cars I have done previously.

Also it should be said with David the fuel pipe/ cables are not in the concept but with the theme of big power cables inside the cave we thought it would be good to continue it to suggest the ship was charging up, also I suggested the Ship could have been refueling but they ran out of fuel and had to abandon it which seemed to be a nice touch agreed by the rest of the team.

In addition to Phil’s goals with speaking to Gareth he was pushing that we dont know what is on the left side of that concept, so we have the freedom to implement a possible gameplay element or nice visual piece. A waterfall was proposed that previously in the level may have had a button that stopped the water flowing revealing a accessible cave underneath with a helpful in game item you would otherwise miss. This idea gave us expansion to develop on, I suggested that with it being a military abandoned area that surely they would have had a storage area so maybe there is a platform you can jump down onto (cant get back up so its a risk taken) that leads you round into a blasted hole in the side of the cave which is the inside of a vault seen in a previous cave room seemingly that you cant get into that holds pickups, potential weapons and additional pieces to your rabbit. To which you can then open the vault from the inside and your back in the cave to navigate your way out again.

Another idea i had that maybe the ship is right on the edge and when you get too close to it (if you do) it falls off the edge, but on the other side of it is a ladder leading down to a hidden location again that could have an item in or a interactive feature for later in the game. The idea is that they want the player to be aware of surroundings, I believe the admiration of the environments gives you experience or health but if you miss it that’s it and you maybe unable to return to that area missing say a helpful survival water vial for later in the game. So the player is rewarded for taking in the surroundings but should you just want to shoot and run your way through the game you can also do that but you may miss helpful items.

So this was separated nicely with portfolio goals in mind and gameplay elements also started to come into it. After the concept was split we went into ideas of gameplay elements more that we could try to implement in engine. I suggested for the lift when you first enter the level it will be flush up against the archway vertically so it seems like a dead end. But a button much like a big red emergency stop for a lift would be under one of the ships wings that you have to crouch down to press lowering the lift making it accessible.

Gareth suggested that he would love to see that when you get close to one of the ships thrusters that a group of birds swarm out and fly off to imply that they had been nesting in there undisturbed for a while.

Then we all agreed that the lift at the end if we could animate it properly it would be nice, to lower the player down from the end of the tutorial into the start of the actual game. This again could be on button press or pressure sensitive when the player steps on the platform so you cant go back if you have missed something.

For Phil’s area the importance on the archway was emphasised by Gareth in the sense that the archways are the games idea of a checkpoint or save, they signify progress but also if you die you return to your previous archway.

With all this considered we called it a day. A Facebook chat has been set up for a strictly Rabbit Heart only communication so that we can relate back to discussions on our work and also keep in touch about to-do’s and deadlines.

The task for next Friday was to have progression on our areas of work this following a design process of course with research and possible sketches then advancement into 3D. A grey block out for layout of the level shall be done using simple shapes to form a plan and key for our environment design and show base progression. As the concept is already done and nearly laid out for us much is done but any added features from us and positioning of assets to scale will be useful as well as colour coding to suggest that that part is interactive and so on.

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Professional Practice Contribution

To contribute to professional practice I contributed to a few events over the summer.

The first event was the 3rd year degree show:


Here is an image of myself and Phillip Maclennan helping out, we was in charge of the bar which was drinks and snacks for all the visiting guests of the degree show. This allowed the 3rd years to show people around and stand by there showcases instead of assisting the guests. Being at the degree show allowed us to have a good look at what ours will be like next year as well as how we can serve the guests, many was asking for alcohol at our bar and we only had juice and pop so possibly selling alcohol would be good for our show for extra funds.

Then the second event was the freshers induction week, the new first years to the course had there induction week just like we did 2 years ago now. Paul Starkey our tutor asked myself and Phil to come in to help him throughout the week. I was unable to attend the Monday but i was told they spent most of the day enrolling so i didnt miss much.

Tuesday they had a group task to think of an idea to benefit your fellow human being, this had no budget or need for current technology. The brief was an apprentice style task where they came up with the idea had to generate logos, designs, details and then pitch there product at the end of the time. I walked around got to know them by introducing myself then offering tips for their ideas, a few times i had to point out the brief requirements this wasn’t vital for the induction week but not following the brief correctly once you start is marks lost.

A few individual students approached me in the week asking for tips and tricks, ways to get a head start and so on. General advice really of what is to come which I gladly gave to them and since then it seems the gaps of the year groups has faded so they are more willing to come ask us for help on work or ideas.

Thursday was the trip to Leeds to visit the Art galleries, i suggested to a few students who was just taking pictures most of the time to do a sketch of something even if you cant draw or its rubbish just do one as Gareth will love that your sketching, also it will show your progress from now until after you do the drawing 101 sessions and a year of creative futures. Whilst I was in the gallery I wasn’t as much focusing on the art more so on the building for level design, and it was interesting as it was largely closed off and under construction for a upcoming art expedition but still in view you could see ladders lying around, cables on show, builders hard hats and half painted walls. All things that would tell the story in a game that this level area you have just entered is under construction. So that was interesting how from Year 1 to Year 3 my view of places and eye for details had become more fine tuned for games design.

This week was rather good to look back on remembering how it felt when we first started to try and give them the best most relaxed comfortable start we could, our group was rather shy and didnt speak much at first whereas this year they seem to have bonded rather well, no doubt this will change but off to a good start. Brought back alot of passion to do well on the course and excitement to start the year.

Since this week the first years have grown in confidence and see us as very approachable people when they need help, even had a few of them sat around us in the process of modelling a motorbike which had them amazed at how we do it (quite a good feeling to be looked up to). Myself and Phil propose once they begin to move into programs to do some “after class” sessions on tips and tricks for games design such as modelling etc.

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Final Major Project “CarBeat”- Progression

My Final Major Project (“FMP”) will be a progression of my 2nd year Self-initiated work to give me a more complete portfolio piece and I believe the concept of my idea had alot to be expanded on so I am not limiting any learning objectives by building on previous work.

To see any previous work on this project named “CarBeat” follow this link to my previous blog and select “Self Initiated” from the categories panel on the right of the webpage.

Here is an overview of my game from last year:

CarBeat is a modern day set racing game in which the player races to obtain cars to add to their collection. The range of vehicles varies in age, rarity and speed from classic cars to exotic hyper cars. The race itself will be drag racing on a quarter mile and half mile basis (varies distance), all cars will be run on a manual gear shift basis so that the player will have to shift gears at the correct time to keep up the speed. You become the ultimate Petrol Head on a pink slip basis you win the car is added to your garage you lose your car is lost so the element of risk is there. Friendly races will be there to upskill before gambling all on the slips race. Players can race head to head in single player career mode or split screen 2 players. Implementation of difficulty level will give a rank system of player’s skill also replay-ability on a higher level.

CarBeat is based on a racing tournament which you race to become the ultimate petrol head, only people who race with true passion and skill are considered to have a CarBeat (instead of a heartbeat). That passion and level of competition increases as every race goes by you can win it all or lose it all. With it being manual gear changes its all down to skill and car choice with different stats of acceleration, top speed and weight.

Upon acceptance of my project I was prompted to come up with different settings for the drag racing. The reasoning behind this would give players multiple environments to race on aside the standard race strip I have been working on. Also dependent on these environments there is open scope to incorporate weather factors to the race which I will go into more detail later on certain tracks.

With multiple environments and settings this will allow me to create a wide variety of assets to populate these and enhance my 3d work to support my target of becoming a 3D Artist.

Now going away from this meeting I was to think of environments, I will describe the setting and some possible assets that could feature alongside the track and in the background.

  • Race Track: Currently in progress your standard modern day drag racing strip. Features crowd stands, sponsorships and professional setup. Could be multiple variations to have race tracks around the world.
  • Desert- For outlaws to race away from police knowledge, much more custom cars, sand means less traction. Basic setup using cones.
  • Desert 2- Luxury high class Desert race, setting of Dubai with the extravagant buildings in the background. On road but with sand flying about, could have sandstorm conditions for extreme races.
  • Street- City racing, more of a car show to begin with people showing off car modifications in background lots of crowds, illegally shut off road for the race, downtown city backstreets so rather gang type area possibly.
  • Ice- Race in the actual arctic have spikes on the wheels for grip, at some sort of artic research centre.
  • Ice 2- Have a race track in ice cold conditions where stability and shift changes are vital to keep in the race. Blizzardy weather decreases visibility of other driver.
  • Traffic Lights- Standard unofficial challenge at the lights to the next set of lights, also requires manoeuvre as well as shifting to avoid traffic.
  • Abandoned Airfield- Rather rustic look to everything the track is cracked concrete with grass coming through, hangar on one side which is broken and empty, and then old broken planes that are rusty on other side.
  • Container yard- big open container yard with cranes and ships ready to be loaded with containers, could have a bit of basic animation and life with the cranes picking up containers to move them gives the environment a bit more activity.
  • Stadium- broken into baseball or football stadium, racing on grass which after a few races will be muddy and slippery. The challenge would be the build of a stadium.

There are 10 alternate environments to potentially be designed and then implemented into my game. Obviously each can have multiple variations in themselves dependent on weather, time of day and population (crowds busy or not) so this gives a lot of scope to expand the games visual aspects around the prime focus of the drag racing.

With some of these settings clearly only present in certain areas of the world it opens up a career mode potential of a world tour upon gaining higher prestige sponsorships from winning lower races and gaining more powerful cars. This will also improve the players feeling of progression as they play more and more they will eventually race for higher stakes (faster more exotic cars) in more luxurious locations (Dubai desert) so it can have an environmental progression to the game as well as the cars. From the abandoned airfield in the middle of nowhere, to the live broadcast drag racing championships on professional race strips.

In continuation of my ideas I will design a few things to support my ideas, this will include an asset list for each of the settings (some assets will be re-useable across the board as generic items e.g. traffic cones), gathering of reference images similar to my environment ideas, layout sketches of the strips, and block outs in engine for the layouts to follow my design process before making any 3D models.